Palau Trip Report Oct 31st 2012
Stopover Hotel in Toronto:
Once again we stayed at the Days Inn Airport East, which is now called the Toronto Plaza Airport Hotel on Wilson Ave. We did a reverse Park and Fly which I set up with Conroy. This is a great hotel for park n fly. They have a great pool and the staff is great. Every time I go away I stay at this hotel. The rates are great and the hotel gives you complimentary continental breakfast so when you come back from vacation and get up the next morning you get a bagel, toast, cereal, coffee or juice before your drive home. The rooms are nice and roomy. This is not a 5 star hotel, but for the money it is a great place to end or start your vacation.
We flew with West Jet from Toronto to Vancouver, China Air from Vancouver to Taipei, then Taipei to Palau. Before leaving my house I confirmed all flights to ensure all were on time. I then proceeded to drive to my park and fly hotel in Toronto, check in and do the paperwork, then checked flight status at this point to find out that the flights were all still on time. Go to the airport to find out that my flight was cancelled and I would be taking a flight 3.5 hours later. West Jet gave us $40 to purchase dinner with. My connector in Vancouver was still 2 hours so I had time to transfer. Other than that the flight was uneventful. The flight staff was pleasant and made you feel comfortable.
Arriving in Vancouver we made it to our gate to do the long haul to Taipei with China Air. The lady at the desk called down to baggage to ensure our bags would make the transfer. The flight was great. Food was ok. Alcohol was free but sleeping is more important. The staff on board was eager to help make your flight great and they succeeded. Needless to say I would fly with them again.
Upon arrival at Palau we were approached by the baggage department and I was informed that our bags had not made it and that we needed to fill out a report. Upon doing so the China Air representative (with a little push from my husband) gave us $50 US each to by incidentals. He then proceeded to tell us that our luggage would be arriving tomorrow night and we could arrange pick up then. I told him we had no vehicle and then the lady from the luggage department proceeded to tell us that she would gladly drop it off at our hotel. What a great lady. I found out later is was West Jets fault that the bags did not make the connector.
We stayed at Lehn’s Apartments (which we booked through Sam’s Tours, information below) and rented the studio apartment with a bed, sitting area, kitchenette with stove and small fridge and a separate bathroom with shower. This is not a luxury hotel but it is clean and the staff does anything they can to help make your stay more enjoyable. It is located about 10 minute walk from downtown and three grocery stores (which you can purchase beer, wine and spirits from). Grocery prices are a bit steep. For example, one box of Kraft dinner is $5, ouch. It is still cheaper to cook in than going out. I would say that food costs are going to be double what they are at home but restaurants are about triple.
That being said, we did go out for dinner on 3 occasions. The first was Ben Ermi’s hamburger place just down the road from Lehn’s. I have to say it was the BEST burger I have ever eaten in my life. We also tried the chicken breast burger and it was wonderful too. They even put it in a tinfoil wrap so it will stay warm on the way back to the apartment. The price was great. It cost about $4.00 US for the burger and $4.50 for the chicken. Next was a Thai restaurant across from the WTC supermarket downtown called Mingles So Thai.We ordered the green curry and you can decide if you want mild, hot, or burning hot (or you can ask for hot on the side and add to your liking). It was a large portion and the price was about $10 US per plate. Left totally stuffed. There are many good places to eat in Koror if you’re willing to pay the expensive prices.
I booked both the hotel and all our diving through Sam’s Tours http://www.samstours.com/main.html . They have a variety of dive/accommodation packages available. They arranged airport transfer for us and all went smoothly. The dive operation is great. A special thanks to Lydia (I do believe that was her name, it has been awhile) who worked in the office and Ali who was our dive master at the beginning of our dive vacation. They are professional and courteous. They do have some things that happen (IE they were late one day picking us up because the van broke down) but the manager was quick to purchase us two drinks each from the bar that night after diving. We booked 5 days of two tanks per day, starting two days after we arrived in Palau. After two days of diving, I unfortunately got ahead cold and Sam’s was more than happy to let me take three days off and finish the rest of my package when I was able to dive again. The dive briefings were accurate and the crew was pretty good.
The diving was pretty good. Better than other places I have been IE: Puerto Gallera in the Philippines. We did German Channel one day and it was ok. We then did Blue Corner and the current was ripping but made all photography hard. Then our boat was going back to Blue Corner and we asked to get changed to a different boat and they were heading to German Channel so we decided to go. Man, what an experience. As we are in the middle of this bait ball all these sharks show up with jacks and then mantas. Then the bait ball “shot” downward and all you heard was THUMP. Wow, never knew that when that many fish in a ball decide to go it actually makes a PHMPH sound. Bizarre. We did see the usual south pacific inhabitants as butterfly fish, Nemo and his cousins, angels, parrot, napoleon wrasse, sharks. On one dive we were just getting hooked in on the rocks to watch the grey, black and white tip reef shark action, I look up and here comes a bus! A, yes, I am not kidding, a great Hammerhead shark comes lurking in. Most people in our group saw it, especially our dive master Ali as she scared it and herself because when she turned around it was right behind her and her startled action made it skittish. It is something I will never forget for the rest of my life.
Now, that being said I have also been to Pohnpei and Yap in Micronesia and as far as a diving and cultural vacation I would choose them over Palau. They have managed to keep the culture more alive there BUT they have a much smaller population than Palau. The reefs were better and I saw 12 mantas in Pohnpei http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_wPkqOasG0 and dropped in off the boat with at least 30 grey reef sharks in Yap. Also, the reefs were in much better shape and much larger in size. If I were to go back to Micronesia, then I would go back to Pohnpei and Yap.
We did some snorkeling around the island that was about a 20 minute walk from the hotel. If you go down to the main road, head left, down the hill, bear up to the right you will find this tiny bar (can’t remember the name) and they have a beach. There is a sign saying that it’s for its customers, but tourists and locals alike just go in anyway. We did purchase some drinks there anyway but not always. I saw quite allot when snorkeling there. There were lionfish, green turtle, puffers, and the usual assortment of fish. If you follow the buoy line out you will hit a wall where you can hang right on the edge for some really cool snorkeling.
All our flights were on time on the way back with no surprises. When we landed in Toronto we called the shuttle to take us back to the hotel. We had arranged a reverse park and fly and an early check in with Conroy, but my husband slept well on the way home and we decided to get out continental breakfast (which they upgraded for free to a full breakfast) due to the fact that we did not take the room we had paid for.
I have been diving all over the south pacific with approximately 400 dives there. This was a good trip with allot of fond memories. The real question is, would I go back to Palau? Sadly, no. Pohnpei and Yap, yes.
GOOD DIVING: TAKE ONLY PICTURES, LEAVE ONLY BUBBLES!
- Also Known As:
- Lehns Motel & Apartments Hotel Koror
- Lehns Motel And Apartments
- Lehns Motel Palau/Koror, South Pacific